For most students, becoming a good reader means overcoming reading difficulties, reading problems, or having a reading deficit. For other students, it may mean having access to good teaching and to materials that will support the development of a self-extending reading program.

Leveled reading is a literacy strategy in which teachers pair students with books that best match their reading abilities. As students’ reading skills improve, teachers assign them more leveled reading books that match their current reading level.

A key factor in the development of a self-extending reading program is supported reading of books that offer just the right level of support and challenge. When books are matched to readers, then students can acquire reading confidence and continue the successful processing that builds their leveled reading.

How does leveled reading blend in today?

Oftentimes, teachers will select a variety of books about the same subject, but which deal with the topic in a simpler or more complex way, according to the student’s ability.

Depending on the leveling system the teacher uses, these books may be labeled numerically, alphabetically, or by grade level. The library of books should be leveled by the same scale or system and be big enough to accommodate student growth. This set of books is sometimes referred to as a leveled book collection.

How can I provide a context for leveled reading? 

Many teachers today teach reading in small groups, a process called “guided reading.” A small group of children who are similar in their reading development at a particular point in time share a brief group-reading lesson each day.

The teacher selects a text that is just about right for the group and “fine-tunes” the text selection with an introduction. The introduction is brief but very important because it “sets the scene” for reading and supports comprehension from the start. Then, members of the group read the whole text softly to themselves at the same time. In virtual settings, students can read out loud by reading to their dog which research has revealed can improve their reading. During reading, the teacher observes behavior and interacts with individuals. Afterwards, the teacher makes several reading assessments like a reading record based on observation. Using your experiences in teaching students, you will find that you can place books along a continuum of difficulty to help all levels of students enjoy reading.

SLCA, 2021